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Carrying the Fire: Paternal Relationships in the Films of Viggo Mortensen

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Interwoven with the complex anti-heroes Viggo Mortensen has portrayed in genre pieces such as Carlito's Way (Brian De Palma, 1993), A Perfect Murder (Andrew Davis, 1998), Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007), and The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini, 2014), this year's Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016) is emblematic of another thread that runs throughout his work. Since his first leading role in The Indian Runner (Sean Penn, 1991), Mortensen has been drawn to scripts that explore family and fatherhood. Many of the characters he has portrayed struggle with how best to express paternal love, to perform the role of 'father', and he has frequently placed himself within narratives that allow him to enact aspects of the father-son relationship. What it means to be both a father and a son – in existential terms – appears to preoccupy the actor.

About Senses of Cinema:

Senses of Cinema is an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. We believe cinema is an art that can take many forms, from the industrially-produced blockbuster to the hand-crafted experimental work; we also aim to encourage awareness of the histories of such diverse forms. As an Australian-based journal, we have a special commitment to the regular, wide-ranging analysis and critique of Australian cinema, past and present. Senses of Cinema is primarily concerned with ideas about particular films or bodies of work, but also with the regimes (ideological, economic and so forth) under which films are produced and viewed, and with the more abstract theoretical and philosophical issues raised by film study.

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